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He, who with all Heaven's heraldry whilere
Enter'd the world, now bleeds to give us ease :
Alas, how soon our sin
Sore doth begin
His infancy to seize !
O more exceeding love, or law more just ?
Just law indeed, but more exceeding love !!
For we, by rightful doom remediless,
Were lost in death, till he that dwelt above
High throned in secret bliss, for us frail dust
Emptied his glory, ev'n to nakedness;
And that great covenant which we still transgress
Entirely satisfied ;
And the full wrath beside
Of vengeful justice, bore for our excess;
And seals obedience first, with wounding smart,
This day; but O! ere long,
Huge pangs and strong
Will pierce more near his heart.
ON THE DEATH OF A FAIR INFANT,& DYING OF A COUGH.
O FAIREST flower, no sooner blown but blasted,
Soft silken primrose fading timelessly,
Summer's chief honour, if thou hadst out-lasted
Bleak Winter's force that made thy blossom dry;
For he, being amorous on that lovely dye
That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss,
But kill'd alas! and then bewail'd his fatal bliss.
For since grim Aquilo, his charioteer,
By boisterous rape the Athenian damsel got,
obvious objection, that material food does not belong to intellectual or ethereal substances: and to avoid certain circumstances, humiliating and disgraceful to the dignity of the angelic nature, the natural consequences of concoction and digestion, he forms a new theory of transpiration, suggested by the wonderful transmutations of chemistry. In the present instance, he wishes to make angels weep: but, being of the essence of fire, they cannot produce water: at length, he recollects that fire may produce burning sighs. It is debated in Thomas Aquinas whether angels have not, or may not have beards.-T. Warton.
bo more exceeding lore, or law more just ?
Just law indeed, but more exceeding love!
Virgil, “Ecl." viii. 49:-
Crudelis mater magis, an puer improbus ille?
Improbus ille puer; crudelis tu quoque mater.-RICHARDSOX.
c Emptied his glory. An expression taken from Philipp. ii. 7, but not as in our translation,-"He made himself of no reputation;" but, as it is in the original, "He emptied himself."NEWTON.
d Written in 1625, and first inserted in edition 1673. He was now seventeen.-T. WARTON.
e For since grim Aquilo, &c. Boreas ravished Orithyia. Ovid. “Metam." vi. 677.-T. Warton.
He thought it touch'd his deity full near,
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away the infamous blot
Of long-uncoupled bed and childless eld,
Which, 'mongst the wanton gods, a foul reproach was held
So, mounting up in icy-pearled car,
Through middle empire of the freezing air
He wander'd long, till thee he spied from far;
There ended was his quest, there ceased his care.
Down he descended from his snow-soft chair;
But, all unwares, with his cold-kind embrace
Unhoused thy virgin soul from her fair biding-place.
Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hand,
Whilom did slay his dearly-loved mate,
Young Hyacinth, born on Eurotas' strand,
Young Hyacinth, the pride of Spartan land;
But then transform’d him to a purple flower:
Alack, that so to change thee Winter had no power!
Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
Or that thy corse corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed,
Hid from the world in a low-delved tomb.
Could Heaven for pity thee so strictly doom?
O, no! for something in thy face did shine
Above mortality, that show'd thou wast divine.
Resolve me then, O soul most surely blest,
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear)
Tell me, bright spirit, where'er thou hoverest;
Whether above that high first-moving sphere,
Or in the Elysian fields, (if such there were 5)
0, say me true, if thou wert mortal wight,
And why from us so quickly thou didst take thy flight?
Wert thou some star, which from the ruin'd roof
Of shaked Olympus by mischance didst fall;
1 For 80 Apollo, with unveeting hand,
Whilom did slay his dearly-loved mate,
Young Hyacinth. From these lines one would suspect, although it does not immediately follow, that a boy was the subject of the Ode: but in the last stanza the poet says expressly :-
Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
Her false-imagined loss cease to lament. Yet, in the eighth stanza the person lamented is alternately supposed to have been sent down to earth in the shape of two divinities, one of whom is styled a "just maid," and the other a “sweet-smiling youth.” But the child was certainly a niece, a daughter of Milton's sister Philips, and probably her first child.—T. WARTON.
& If such there were. He should have said "are," if the rhyme had permitted.—HURD.
Which careful Jove in Nature's true behoof
Took up, and in fit place did reinstall ?
Or did of late Earth's sons besiege the wall
Of sheeny Heaven, and thou some goddess fled,
Amongst us here below to hide thy nectar'd head?
Or wert thou that just maid, who once before
Forsook the hated earth, O, tell me sooth,
And camest again to visit us once more?
Or wert thou that sweet-smiling youth ?'
Or that crown'd matron sage, white-robed Truth?
Or any other of that heavenly brood,
Let down in cloudy throne to do the world some good ?
Or wert thou of the golden-winged host,
Who, having clad thyself in human weed,
To earth from thy prefixed seat didst post,
And after short abode fly back with speed,
As if to show what creatures heaven doth breed;
Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire
To scorn the sordid world, and unto heaven aspire ?
But, 0! why didst thou not stay here below
To bless us with thy Heaven-loved innocence,
To slake his wrath whom sin hath made our foe,
To turn swift-rushing black Perdition hence,
Or drive away the slaughtering Pestilence,"
To stand 'twixt us and our deserved smart?
But thou canst best perform that office where thou art.
Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
Her false-imagined loss cease to lament,
And wisely learn to curb thy sorrows wild :
Think what a present thou to God hast sent,
And render him with patience what he lent.
This, if thou do, he will an offspring give,
That, till the world's last end shall make thy name to live.
h To turn swift-rushing black Perdition hence,
Or drive arcay the slaughtering Pestilence. Among the blessings, which the “heaven-loved" innocence of this child might bare imparted, by remaining upon earth, the application to present circumstances, the supposition that she might have averted the pestilence now raging in the kingdom, is happily and beautifully conceived. On the whole, from a boy of seventeen, this Ode is an extraordinary effort of fancy, expression, and versification : even in the conceits, which are many, we perceive strong and peculiar marks of genius. I think Milton has here given a very remarkable specimen of his ability to succeed in the Spenserian stanza. He moves with great ease and address amidst the embarrassment of a frequent return of rhyme.-T. WARTON.
Fly, envious Time, till thou run out thy race;
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain !
For when as each thing bad thou hast entomb'd,
And last of all thy greedy self consumed,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individuali kiss ;
And Joy shall overtake us as a flood;
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
When Truth, and Peace, and Love, shall ever shine
About the supreme
Of him, to whose happy-making sight alone
When once our heavenly-guided soul shall climb;
Then, all this earthy grossness quit,
Attired with stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, U Time.k
AT A SOLEMN MUSICK.
Blest pair of Sirens, pledges of Heaven's joy;
Sphere-born harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse;
Wed your divine sounds, and mix'd power employ
Dead things with imbreathed sense able to pierce;
And to our high-raised phantasy present
That undisturbed song of pure concent,'
Aye sung before the sapphire-colour'd throne
To him that sits thereon,
i In Milton's manuscript, written with his own hand, fol. 8, the title is, “On Time. To be set on a clock-case."-T. WARTOX.
j Individual. Eternal, inseparable. As in “Paradise Lost,” b. iv. 485, b. v. 610.–T. WARTON.
Milton could not help applying the most solemn and mysterious truths of religion on all subjects and occasions. He has here introduced the beatific vision, and the investiture of the soul with a robe of stars, into an inscription on a clock-case. Perhaps something more moral, more plain and intelligible, would have been more proper. John Bunyan, if capable of rhyming, would have written such an inscription for a clock
The latter part of these lines may be thought wonderfully sublime; but it is in the cant of the times. The poet should be distinguished from the enthusiast.–T. WARTox.
Yet still, I think, Milton is hero no enthusiast: the triumph, which he mentions, will certainly be the triumph of every sincere Christian.--Todd.
1 That undisturbed song of pure concent, &c. The “undisturbed song of pure concent” is the diapason of the music of the spheres, to which, in Plato's system, God himself listens.-T. WARTON.
With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee;
Where the bright seraphim, in burning row,
Their loud uplifted angel trumpets blow;
And the cherubick host, in thousand quires,
Touch their immortal harps of golden wires,
With those just spirits that wear victorious palms,
Hymns devout and holy psalms
That we on earth,” with undiscording voice,
May rightly answer that melodious noise;
As once we did, till disproportion'd sin
Jarr'd against Nature's chime, and with harsh din
Broke the fair
that all creatures made
To their great Lord, whose love their motion sway'd
In perfect diapason, whilst they stood
In first obedience, and their state of good.
0, may we soon again renew that song,
And keep in tune with Heaven, till God ere long
To his celestial concert us unite,
To live with him, and sing in endless morn of light!
AN EPITAPH ON THE MARCHIONESS OF WINCHESTER.
This rich marble doth inter
The honour'd wife of Winchester,
A viscount's daughter, an earl's heir,
Besides what her virtues fair,
Added to her noble birth,
More than she could own from earth.
Summers three times eight save one
She had told ; alas ! too soon,
After so short time of breath,
To house with darkness and with death.
Yet had the number of her days
Been as complete as was her praise,
Nature and Fate had had no strife
In giving limit to her life.
Her high birth, and her graces sweet,
Quickly found a lover meet;
m That are on earth, &c.
Perhaps there are no finer lines in Milton, less obscured by conceit, less embarrassed
by affected expressions, and less weakened by pompous epithets: and in this perspicuous
and simple style are convered some of the noblest ideas of a most sublime philosophy,
heightened by metaphors and allusions suitable the subject.--T. WARTOX.
n Besides what her virtues fair, &c.
In Howell's entertaining Letters, there is one to this lady, the Lady Jane Sarage. Mar-
chioness of Winchester, dated March 15, 1626. He says, he assisted her in learning
Spanish; and that Nature and the Graces exhausted all their treasure and skill, in
framing this exact model of female perfection.”-T. Warton.
o Her high birth, and her graces sweet,
Quickly found a lover meet.
She was the wife of John, Marquis of Winchester, a conspicuous loyalist in the reign